Orff: Carmina burana/Rattle

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Okay, the CD bins aren’t exactly screaming for yet another Carmina Burana, but this performance is excellent–fresh, exciting, and with a sensational baritone soloist in Christian Gerhaher. Simon Rattle’s conception of the work is very similar to the (comparatively) old Michael Tilson Thomas reading on Sony: swift tempos, incisive rhythms, and no cheating on the percussion. O Fortuna has to be one of the fastest around, but Rattle never sacrifices clarity to sheer speed, and the Berlin Radio Choir (uncredited on the booklet cover!) is terrific. It’s great to hear the big numbers, such as Ecce gratum and Tempus est iocundum, sung with such abandon. The guys have a great time with In taberna: Rattle’s tempo manipulations here add character (and he keeps everyone together). He also allows the lower brass a healthy measure of the necessary vulgarity.

Are there any minuses? A couple. Soprano Sally Matthews sings decently, but she has a bit too much thickness in her voice (and not quite enough stamina) to make In trutina completely convincing, though her highest notes in Dulcissime are pure and very well tuned. I would have liked to hear a bit more of the semi-chorus at the end of Veni, veni, venias, and the tam-tam should crash more threateningly at the ends of both O Fortuna choruses, but these are very minor points. The sound is bright, well balanced, and displays the tonal luster of the Berlin Philharmonic to fine effect without obscuring the choral contribution at all. Certainly this performance is more successful than the orchestra’s last outing in this work, with Ozawa on Philips, and if you’re in the market for a new version of Orff’s evergreen, I can recommend this without hesitation.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Jochum (DG), Runnicles (Telarc), Welser-Most (EMI)

CARL ORFF - Carmina Burana

  • EMI - 5 57888 2
  • CD

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